With an eye on 2014 assembly elections, the National Conference dropped its seven ministers, including four cabinet ministers, in a first major cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday. The NC's coalition partner, the Congress got back its share of two portfolios and one minister of state.
The reshuffle was more of a NC exercise in tune with the statement of chief minister Omar Abdullah that party has to gear up for the next assembly election.
Six new cabinet ministers and four ministers of state (MoS), three with independent charge, were inducted in the ministry. Four NC MLAs and four Cong MLAs were given cabinet status, while three from NC and one from Cong were elevated as ministers of state.
Governor NN Vohra administred the oath of the office to the new ministers at Raj Bhawan in a ceremony attended by chief minister, cabinet colleagues and digintires.
Former speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone, Chowdhary Ramzan, Ajay Sadhotra, Mir Saifullah of NC; and GA Mir and Abdul Majid Wani of Congress, were given cabinet status, while Sajad Kitchloo, Pheroz Khan, Nazir Gurezi from NC and Vikar Rasool of Congress were inducted as MoS.
The new faces were inducted after Governor accepted the resignation of NC ministers Surjit Singh Slathia, Qamar Ali Akhoon, Abdul Gani Malik, Aga Syed Ruhulla Mehdi, Nasir Aslam Wani and Javid Ahmad Dar and Cong minister Rajinder Singh Chib.
The resignations of these members of the council of ministers were recommended and forwarded to the Governor by chief minister Omar Abdullah.
Ahead of the reshuffle, Omar had sought resignations of all NC ministers, including advisers, on Sunday.
Omar Abdullah had tried to blend young and seasoned politicians from the NC share in the coalition. Feroz Ahmad, Nazir Ahmad Gurezi and Sajjad Kitchloo are in their 40's and had represented their constituencies more than once, while Akbar Lone and Chowdhary Ramzan are the old time seasoned politicians.
The three MoS from NC given independent charge represent remote and backward areas of the state. Zanskar (Feroz Ahmad), Gurez (Nazir Gurezi) and Kishtwar (Sajjad Kitchloo).
With the induction of Mir and Wani, the Congress has got back its share of two portfolios held by the chief minister after GM Saroori and Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed were divested of their portfolios on the allegations of helping their wards illegally to secure admission in the medical test and Class 10 examinations respectively.
Omar replaced Akhoon with Feroz from Kargil, while Abdul Gani Malik and SS Salathia were replaced with Sajad Kitchloo from Jammu divison and Aga Syed Ruhulla Mehdi, Nasir Aslam Wani and Javid Ahmad Dar were replaced by Akbar Lone, Saifullah Mir and Chowdhary Mohammad Ramzan from the Kashmir region.